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Fire Starter: "Honor Amongst Thieves: Book One"

"Honor Amongst Thieves: Book One," the new novel from author A.C. Clayton, depicts the struggle of youths torn between becoming products of their neighborhood and maturing into their own men. The story centers on the hard-knock life of ex-convict Kameek "Kay-Kay" Barnes and chronicles his days in the gritty streets of Brooklyn to his time with roughnecks on Rikers' infamous C-74 prison block. Clayton himself spent time incarcerated and has reformed his life through his own literature. He said he was inspired by a mix of mafia books and films such as "Boyz N the Hood" and "Menace II Society." Clayton also wants his book to reach at-risk young people in the streets before the handcuffs of an arresting office get to them first.


Mixtape Monday: Fabolous Taps Into 50 Cent's European Market; Beanie Sigel Says Jay-Z OK'd R. Kelly Collabo

— by Shaheem Reid and Jayson Rodriguez, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes

Artist: Scarface

Representing: Houston

Independent Album: Made

411: Rap fans have been fiendin' since 2002's The Fix for a hit from Scarface, and now the H-Town legend is back with the goods. It's been five long years in the making, but Uncle 'Face has stockpiled enough tracks for his latest, Made, due December 4 on Rap-A-Lot/Asylum. After his last few projects dropped, 'Face told us to not bet against his flawless record of classics. This time around, he made sure to come correct. The multi-instrumentalist even stepped back from the mixing board and focused more on his pen this go-round, leaving the production to others, including his longtime collaborator Mike Dean. He wanted to make sure his lyrics were extra sharp. So without further ado, Mr. Scarface.

Joints To Check For:

  • "Never." "Just think of some stuff you'll never do in life," 'Face explained. "That's what that song is about."

  • "Big Dog Status." "[That track] was [originally] named 'Get Like Me,' for real," Scarface said. "That's the name of the song. Whoever changed it, don't change my songs no more. That song right there is talking about me young and me right now, you feel me?"

  • "Girl You Know." "It's called 'Girlfriend,' but they changed it to 'Girl You Know,' " 'Face said. "What the hell does that mean? Don't change my songs no more. It's just talking about being in a relationship that you really don't wanna be in. And I don't need no girlfriend. That's basically what it is."

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
  • Big Mike and Suge White - K.A.R. Mafia
  • DJ Hitz - Grand Theft Auto Five: Cocaine City Edition
  • DJ Famous - Carter vs. Carter
  • DJ Wits - The Kanye Collection - The Re-Release
  • Swishahouse - No Time to Waste

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • Freeway (featuring Scarface) - "Baby Don't Do It"
  • Ghostface Killah (featuring Beanie Sigel and Styles P) - "The Barrel Brothers"
  • Quan (featuring Big Pooh) - "Geez Like Deez"
  • Rick Ross (featuring Flo Rida) - "Street Money"
  • Styles P (featuring Max B) - "Holiday"
  • Wu-Tang Clan - "Life Change"

Celebrity Faves

  Datwon Thomas
Whenever various shows — from VH1's "Best Week Ever" to BET's "Countdown" specials — need an expert in the music biz to wax on a particular subject, Datwon Thomas — editorial director of King and Rides magazine — definitely gets a phone call. He's a veteran journalist who gets just as much love from music-biz insiders such as the late Big L or Irv Gotti (Datwon appeared in the debut episode of "Gotti's Way" on VH1) as he does from his peers. With the assistance of DJ Rhude, the guys at King just released their first mixtape, Freaky Flows, and got former cover girl Karrine Steffans to host. She raps on the intro.

"The rap thing was her idea," Thomas said. "I asked her to host the mixtape, and she said, 'All right, I have something ill for you.' "

Datwizzy said the video vixen didn't tell him what she had in mind, so he didn't know if she would be talking extra scandalous about one of her famous lovers or getting a drop from her friend Lil Wayne. But the surprise was her rapping.

"It was pretty dope," Thomas said. "It's not even straight rapping; it's kinda like poetry in motion. It's her style of spit. I think it's kind of like if you hang around Lil Wayne all the time and all these dope rappers all the time, you want to do these things. I don't think she wants to do it for real, for real, but if she wanted to, she can."

When it comes to the King covers, another one of his favorite chicks is Lil' Kim.

"I think I was in college when that Hard Core poster came out with her on the cover with her legs open," he said about Kim's 1996 album cover. "I would be walking down the block to school, and those snipes would be up. I remember they did a segment on the news about the snipes of her causing car accidents. That always stuck in my head. So when it came time to do Kim for the cover of King [in 2004], I'm from Brooklyn and she went to my high school, I wanted to re-create that pose."

The Queen was against the idea, however.

"That was the illest in my eyes, but she was so against it, like, 'Nah, chill, I did that.' I was like, 'Ma, you gotta do it.' We kept going back and forth. It came time for her to do it, and she said, 'You know what? I'm gonna do it.' I got her homegirl to help persuade [her]. When it finally came out, she was like, 'All right, it's dope.' "

Thomas is currently listening to Jay-Z's American Gangster but says everyone needs to pay attention to Talib Kweli's Eardrum. "I think it's the most slept-on album of the year," he said.

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

"Baby Don't Go," fo sho! Fabolous says his latest baby, his album From Nothin' to Somethin', isn't going anywhere. He plans to release more singles from it. On deck is a video for "Gangsta Don't Play."

"We're just getting the treatment," he said. "I might do a sneaky remix. That's what I was holding back on it for. I was talking to one of my friends ... and trying to make a remix happen. But [even if] I don't get that to happen, I'm definitely going to have the remix on the burner."

After that, Fab says he might have clips for "I'm the Man," "First Time" (with Rihanna) and/or "This Is Family" (featuring Joe Budden, Ransom and Paul Cane).

"The Rihanna joint, some soundtrack was hollering about it," he said. "I don't know if I needed another pop look now, but sometimes things happen. It might still happen. I definitely wanted another street look, so I'm definitely doing 'Gangsta Don't Play.' And I'm looking to do something for either 'Joke's on You' or the 'I'm the Man' joint with Red Cafe. And I might even do something for Internet too, the crew joint ['This Is Family']. But I heard Ransom and Budden had a little thing, so I don't know if that's gonna work."

Fab, of course, is referring to the online back-and-forth between Budden and his longtime friend/ rhyme accomplice Ransom, who have been dissing each other in various freestyles.

"That was crazy," he smiled. "I love both of them lyrically. I never saw it coming. They're even a little closer [to each other] than I am to both of them. It's just shaky with rap. People wake up a different rapper sometimes. One day they wake up this way, and one day they wake up a different way. At the end of the day, they're grown men. Hopefully they can work it out or rap it out and don't clap it out. I was in Europe, and I been checking out all the hip-hop sites. I think Joe threw two [freestyles] out, and Ransom threw like four out. Hopefully we sideswiped that."

Fab says if he does do a video for "This Is Family," his friends will have to make amends — at least partially.

"Somebody told me to do their parts [of the video] in two different locations," he explained. "Or shoot them at two different times. But I don't even want that energy. If they don't wanna do it, then I won't do it. Next thing you know, somebody will be coming at me: 'You ain't tell me that you was gonna put me in. I don't wanna be on a song.' But it's rap. Both of their [freestyles] are pretty good. It's entertaining. It's funny to see people who came in together going at each other."

Budden says he's willing to put the beef behind him for business. "I'll do the video," Budden told us last week. "I mean, what's gonna happen, right? Somebody gets shot? None of that is gonna happen. I mean, I ain't shaking [Ransom's] hand, but I'll do the video."

Fab just got back home from Europe, where he was on tour with 50 Cent.

"I was over there for promos, and the opportunity came to do the shows with 50, which was good because that was a promo thing for me even though they was paid shows," he said. "50 is a big international artist. That let me tap into 50's market. A lot of dudes — even the dudes that are big over here — you wonder how people over there don't know who they are. Some of the biggest names in the States are small fries over there. Even myself. I've had some songs they know, but even songs that are my general hits over here, they might not be too familiar with them. I guess they know certain artists or bigger artists ... like your 50s, Justin Timberlake, Eminem. But certain people they don't know. You can have a big record over here, they don't know. They don't know who Hurricane Chris is; they think that's really a hurricane."

Whirlwind 50 says he's indeed enjoying his time away from home.

"The show's incredible," 50 said about the tour. "I don't want the next city to think it's the same show, so I change it all the time. Between material from Get Rich or Die Tryin' and The Massacre — that was technically a double-CD with 21 cuts — and Curtis, I have plenty of material. Also I have things in between like [G-Unit's] Beg for Mercy and [Young Buck's] Straight Outta Cashville. I've got a lot of songs that I can bring to the stage." ...

  Beanie Sigel
Beanie Sigel always had the streets on lock with his reality rap, but the Broad Street Bully needed a bit of help getting his club burner "All the Above" together. First, DJ Khaled put Sig on the Runners-produced track. Then, Beans started debating whether to put T-Pain or Akon on the song.

"When [Khaled] sent it to me, it already had somebody who referenced the hook and stuff on it," Sigel said. "So I knocked out the verse, and we was looking to change the person up. So everybody in the studio — when I record, I get everybody's input — we came up with T-Pain to do the hook or Akon. So we were just figuring out, out of them two, who we were going to use."

Because T-Pain had done records with so many people recently, Beans settled on Akon. But the 'Kon was on tour overseas, and with a deadline looming, Beanie had to move on. He had his back to the wall when he took the record to New York to meet with his A&R rep, Lenny Santiago.

"I told Lenny, 'I got somebody in mind who could probably body this joint,' " Beans said. "He was like, 'I was thinking of someone too, man, but I don't know.' So I was like, 'Who are you thinking about?' And he started smiling. So I told him to write whoever he was thinking about on a paper, I'mma write who I was thinking out, then we gonna turn them over. So when we did it, I wrote 'Kells' on my paper, and he wrote the 'R.' And when we looked at it, it said 'R. Kelly' when you put them together. [Editor's note: Well, it really read 'R. Kells,' but let the man tell his story!] We just started laughing, so he was like, 'You sure?' I was like, 'Yeah, get him on the phone.' Made the phone call, got him the record, and it was done in three days."

It took those three days to get the collaboration in place, but Kells actually held onto the record longer than Sigs expected. To his surprise, the R. liked the song so much, he decided to lay a verse down in addition to providing the hook.

According to Beans, there was no friction between him and Jay-Z for opting to go with Kells. In fact, he said it was business as usual. "It was business, and you got to separate business from the personal things," Beans said. "And Jay-Z at this point in his career, he's a businessman, so he understood the vision once I explained it to him, and he was all for it. No problem at all."

Next up for Beans is getting his business together. The State Property head is mulling over his next wave of artists. So far, he has a four-man collective out of Philly, and he's planning to put out a street album after The Solution drops December 11.

"It ain't gonna be the new State Property; it'll be whatever that new movement is gonna be," he said. "Right now I got four people that I think are gonna be relevant to the game — that's [Chee] Forche, Kyle Green, Mur Mill and Bogart. That's my new team, so far. I'm looking for three more artists. After this album, I'm gonna do an album called The Halfway House, and these are gonna be the new artists off the Halfway House. I got a couple records [so far] I been recording. Look out for that, and I'm taking all bets. I don't co-sign no garbage. I don't do that." ...

  Method Man
"Wu-Tang will survive." God, we hope so. Wu-Tang Clan fans everywhere have been shaking their heads lately — not so much in disbelief (they've had public squabbles before), but in disappointment at the Clan's recent round of airing dirty laundry. Ghostface Killah, Raekwon and RZA have all spoken their piece on the subject, but what about the most visible member of the triumphant hip-hop unit? Method Man is keeping his mouth shut for now.

"There's a reason why I ain't spoke yet," said Meth, standing next to the RZA recently in New York. "When the album drops, we can talk."

"We're here though," RZA added. "We're spreading the culture."

Ghostface Killah, who was the first Wu member to go public with the group's dissension, talked to us on Friday, just a couple of hours before he went onstage at the Hip Hop Live tour with Rakim. He let it be known that he doesn't stand firmly behind the new Clan album, 8 Diagrams.

  Ghostface Killah
"I love the Clan and all that, but we got certain problems right now," Ghost said. "Am I supporting the album? What's going on in the air right now and all that ... I'm supporting what I gotta do for right now for Ghostface. No disrespect to the album, I haven't really listened to the [project] like that, but I heard the responses and I kinda had an idea it was gonna turn out however it turned out. ... No telling how [the group situation] is gonna be tomorrow — a nice conversation or something to make your heart feel good. But as of right now, it's two weeks before my album The Big Doe Rehab comes out on December 4; I'mma do what I gotta do for Tony Starks. I can't worry about all this other stuff that's trying to take me out my game.

"Everybody is grown men on that side," he added about Wu-Tang. "There's no way in the world we shouldn't make the best album. You got me on your team, you got Rae, you got Meth, you got a dream team. The people been waiting for us for years, and to try and bake something that's not all the way baked and ready and rushing, I don't agree to that. So I'm not signing off on that. Don't put my name on that. I don't want people looking at me like, 'Ghost, what did you do?' I didn't do nothing. Nobody wanted to listen. Yeah, I came in [during] the ninth inning because I been played with the past couple of years, so I wasn't really going in on the Wu album. I was like, 'Forget that, I'm not doing that. N---as owe me money.' What I look like?"

For other artists featured in Mixtape Mondays, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.

For a full-length feature on the role of mixtapes in the music industry, check out "Mixtapes: The Other Music Industry."

For other artists featured in Mixtape Mondays, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines

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Photo: MTV News

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